Mulberry season is so short and so prolific, of all the things I am tempted to make jam from, mulberries are it. But even mulberries don’t make it these days.
Once upon a time I used to make jam, when I was in my twenties, when I was doing 16 hours a day of physical work, when I was breastfeeding. Several slices of bread loaded up with jam for breakfast, and another couple to finish off lunch.
But then my kids got to jam-eating age and trying to keep the sugar down and get them to really appreciate the more subtle tastes of fresh fruit, and filling the pantry up with home-made jam seemed a bit contradictory. I’d make it, then go crook at them for eating it. And without breastfeeding or 16 hours of physical work to peel off the calories, I lost my sweet tooth, and my partner banned his, so jam tended to just sit decoratively on the shelf for years.
So I stopped making it.
We are lucky. In our climate there is seasonal fresh fruit available year round. For a few weeks, mulberries are in everything. The birds get most of them but still there are unlimited amounts. Then mulberry season is over, but just as the mulberries finish the blueberries start, then it’s on to the early stonefruit, then the grapes and mangoes and lychees and kiwis. Then the passionfruit, apples and pears, then the mandarins and oranges.
Luckily I didn’t make any marmalade while citrus season was on. Otherwise I’d have to think about not letting it go to waste, rather than put mulberry not-jam on my toast.
To get a nice variety of texture – whole chunks of mulberry in reduced mulberry syrup – you just need to cook the mulberries for different lengths of time.
Put a small pot on the stove with just a teaspoon of water and a little squeeze of lemon juice to start it off. Pinch the stem off and add mulberries one by one, giving it a stir every so often. Add a teaspoon of sugar for each half cup of mulberries, just to get it turning jammy. As they cook, the mulberries will release juice, and at the same time evaporate off water. So the amount of liquid should stay fairly constant and low. Stop when you have enough or you run out of mulberries. The purple will wear off your fingers in a few hours, but don’t try this in a white shirt.
It will keep in the fridge for a while. I really don’t know how long. I’ve never tested it beyond a few days. But it is fast to make so I tend to just make what I need.
To make the yoghurt cream cheese, just leave some yoghurt (I use my homemade skim milk yoghurt) to strain through a fine cloth in the fridge overnight. In the morning you will have yoghurt cream cheese in the cloth and an almost clear liquid strained out. Transfer it to a clean jar and it will keep in the fridge for several days.